Irresponsible Madness at City Hall (Update 2)

Updated May 10, 2013 at 8:45 am:

A consolidated list of Council actions has been added to show the net effect of many overlapping motions and amendments.

Updated May 9, 2013 at 11:00 pm:

After an extremely long debate and complex voting process, the primary outcome of Council’s actions was:

  • “That City Council support the extension of the Bloor Danforth Subway Line from Kennedy Station to the Scarborough Town Centre and north to Sheppard Avenue.”
  • “That City Council request that the North York Relief Line (unfinished subway construction between Sheppard Avenue and Allen Road, and Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue) be recognized as a substantive project priority for Phase 2 Metrolinx funding.”
  • That consideration of various other projects such as the Bloor West subway extension be referred to the Chief Planner for analysis and incorporation in the review of the Official Plan now in progress
  • That Council not support any of the proposed “revenue tools” to fund transit expansion or operations, but that if Queen’s Park chooses to implement some, Toronto wants its cut subject to a number of conditions.

The full minutes, for those with the heart to wade through them, are on the City’s website.

From a procedural viewpoint, Council merely offered “support” or a “request” for new subway lines, but did not actually ask that the Scarborough LRT be recast as a subway project.  Speaker Nunziata ruled that Council was not technically reopening the matter of its agreement with Queen’s Park, and therefore only a simple majority of votes was needed for motions regarding changes to the proposed network to pass.

Before the voting even began, Transportation Minister Glen Murray had told the Queen’s Park press gallery that the province was building the already agreed-to network and would not entertain a change to subway technology for the SRT replacement.  This did not deter Council from asking for the change anyhow, no doubt hoping that political winds at the Pink Palace will bring a change in policy.

This on the same day Transportation Minister Glen Murray emphasized that the province will not be giving Toronto a new subway extension in exchange for a deal on revenue streams to build transit. “I want to be very clear so no one misunderstands me: We have 15 projects, we’re not revisiting those projects, we’re continuing to build those projects,” he said. [The Globe And Mail, May 9, 2013]

Over half of the voting time, and a great deal of debate, was wasted on the question of which revenue tools, if any, Council would support.  The staff report recommended a few, but rejected most.  Rather than completely replacing this recommendation with a set of motions to adopt or reject each tool, Council wound up with a rat’s nest of overlapping and contradictory motions proposing new lists, and with some Councillors proposing amendments to others’ motions.  The effect at times was to create double and triple negatives in the effect of some votes rather than simply taking each tool/tax/fee in turn and voting up or down on whether Council supported it.

In the end, Council rejected all of them, a process that could have taken a lot less time with only a modicum of procedural leadership.

Toronto now faces a provincial government that will almost certainly ignore its requests and, in the short term, will proceed with the agreed plan (which Council did not attempt to revoke).

For their parts, Metrolinx and the TTC owe everyone a much more detailed statement of the cost implications of the LRT and subway options to inform any decision to take one or the other path.  Whether we will actually get this, given the vested interests in the fog of misinformation hanging over Council’s debate and Metrolinx planning, is another question.

Update 2 – Decisions taken by Council:

In this section, I have attempted to collect related motions together so that the overall intent of Council (assuming such a thing exists) is clear.  Where an action is included in quotation marks, this is a direct quote from the Council motion.

Council did not explicitly name Sales Taxes or Development Charges in the list of revenue tools it supported.  This has been construed by some Councillors as a backhanded endorsement by omission.  However, a separate motion recommending a 1% province-wide sales tax dedicated to transportation programs throughout Ontario was defeated by a vote of 28:16.

Although Council does not support a parking levy, if one is imposed then:

  • “City Council request the Provincial government to consider no charge for small scale commercial parking and differentiated charges for paid commercial parking lots and other large scale free commercial parking.”

Council indicated general support for regional transit expansion and for dedicated revenues to fund The Big Move’s capital and operating costs.  Any new taxes or fees implemented should follow certain principles:

  • “All project selections be based on a cost/benefit analysis that emphasizes improving transportation capacity, relief from congestion, and is linked to appropriate land-use planning.”
  • Operation of transit expansions should be fully costed.
  • New GTHA fees should be dedicated to GTHA transportation, they should imposed at the same level across the region and they should not “create a disincentive to economic growth in Toronto”.
  • The mix of fees should balance between effects on residents and businesses.  They should take account of affordability for those of low incomes with tax credits to be considered to offset the cost for this group.
  • New revenues should not be used to fund the existing $8.4b provincial commitment to the “phase one” Big Move projects.
  • GO Transit capital and operating costs should be carried by the province separately from new revenues.  This position conflicts with the presence of GO expansion projects in The Big Move.

Council’s support for new fees is conditional on a 25% share of the revenue for incremental funding (ie: net new money) of municipal transit expansion with priorities to be set municipally.  A regional property tax was explicitly rejected because this revenue stream is required to fund local requirements.

Separately, Council asked that Queen’s Park agree to fund 1/2 of transit operating costs, state of good repair programs and rolling stock in Toronto.

Council asked that the Federal government contribute to The Big Move with “equitable and increased” funding.  The Feds were also asked to implement a regional income tax reduction to offset the cost of new taxes to the GTHA.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Council wants the Feds to, in effect, pay for the cost of transit expansion through a tax cut in the GTHA that would be clawed back through new provincial revenues.

Council asked that Metrolinx work with provincial and federal agencies to implement projects through public private partnerships (PPPs) to minimize costs.  Of course, there is no guarantee that this will actually deliver better, cheaper projects over their lifetime, but this is part of current financial orthodoxy.  In a separate motion, Council also asked that Metrolinx issue an international Request for Proposals (RFP) for future subway construction in Toronto.  This is actually already Metrolinx’ practice.

Council asked that capital maintenance costs for any projects built and owned by Metrolinx be borne by that agency.  By implication, municipalities should not be responsible for funding repairs to infrastructure that they do not own.  This could be tricky depending on the wording of operating agreements between Metrolinx and municipalities.

Council asked that all Metrolinx and TTC projects “be aligned with City Building goals including appropriate transit oriented development on Metrolinx properties” and that both agencies “undertake Community Benefit Agreements for all transit lines and local projects funded through new revenue tools”.

Council requested reports from the City Manager on:

  • a revised governance structure for Metrolinx,
  • principles for allocation of the 25% municipal share of new revenues,
  • the “opportunity” to use the municipal share to finance 50% of existing GTHA transit operations.

Council referred the following additional transit lines to the Chief Planner:

  • a Sheppard LRT spur to the Zoo,
  • a Finch West subway from the Spadina subway to Humber College,
  • the Downtown Relief Line,
  • the Sheppard Subway Line from Don Mills Station to Scarborough Town Centre,
  • extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway Line to the East Mall and Sherway Gardens Mall.

Council also decided that it should:

“not proceed with the proposed Yonge North Subway Extension until improvements have first been made to increase capacity on the existing Yonge University line by an amount at least equal to the increased ridership generated by the Yonge North Subway Extension.”

This is oddly worded because both the Richmond Hill extension and any project to relieve capacity downtown are Metrolinx projects within The Big Move, not Toronto projects.  This appears to be a drafting error, and the motion should have read that Council does not support building the extension until there is capacity to absorb the new riding.

Notwithstanding the report request to the City Manager, Council also made several requests to Queen’s Park related to Metrolinx:

  • “The governance and decision-making processes of Metrolinx must be changed to ensure Toronto has an appropriate degree of control over the use of new transit-related revenue tools applied in Toronto.”
  • “Mechanisms are put in place to insure the accountability of Metrolinx, including the appointment of the Mayor or his designate to the Board of Metrolinx.”
  • That the board revert to its original format with political representation from the regional municipalities on an “equitable basis” between Toronto and the other regions, and that the chair be appointed by the province.  All decisions on the spending of new revenues would be controlled by this board.

Original article from 8:33am May 9:

Toronto Council was supposed to debate the issue of transit “revenue tools” yesterday, May 8, so that it could advise Queen’s Park which were acceptable in Toronto’s eyes, or at least which were the least unacceptable, given that nobody likes new taxes.

The debate, which will continue today, descended into complete chaos of “let’s make a deal” transit planning of the worst kind seen in decades.

The whole affair started simply enough with a move to wrest control of the City Manager’s report on revenue tools from Mayor Ford’s Executive Committee.  That was accomplished by a procedural vote needing a 2/3 majority of councillors present, a move that took took advantage of at least one Ford ally from the meeting.  That was on Tuesday, May 7.  Late Wednesday morning, May 8, the item came up for debate.

The entire scheme started to unravel with a move by Scarborough Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker to make any approval of new funding tools conditional on changing the proposed Scarborough LRT to a full subway line.  As I have discussed in other articles, the arguments for this change are tenuous and include flat out misrepresentations of several aspects of the two options, notably their relative cost.

Not content to stop at one subway, other members of Council have started to chime in with their pet projects including a Bloor West subway, the Sheppard east and west extensions (the latter dubbed the “Pasternak Relief Line” by some), a totally grade-separated line on Finch, and a resurrected Jane LRT.  The combined additions to the network cost are astronomical, but that’s not really what Councillors care about.

Some, like De Baeremaeker, are fighting for their political hides, worried that they be portrayed as less than supportive of their supposedly downtrodden suburban communities.

Some are fighting political battles by proxy for the provincial parties.  The Tories bang the drum on the “no new taxes” front while failing to explain how the mass of high-cost transit proposals will be funded.  The NDP trots out their hobby-horse of corporate taxes arguing that Council should not support increases in regressive, user-based fees such as sales or fuel taxes.  Even some Liberals are up to mischief attempting to create an embarrassing situation where Premier Kathleen Wynne would be forced into a Hobson’s choice of changing her position on The Big Move network, or of overriding Council’s desire for new subway lines.  The Liberals in question are still fighting the lost leadership battle.  None of this serves the debate about funding and building a major expansion of the GTA’s transit network.

What is overwhelmingly evident is the leadership vacuum at City Hall.  Throughout the debate, Mayor Ford wandered in and out of the chamber wearing his Toronto Maple Leaf jersey and clearly was more interested in how the hockey game might play out than a vital debate.  He didn’t really have much to do with De Baeremaeker making a complete fool of himself and compromising both truth and any sense of responsible transit planning.

For her part, Karen Stintz, having launched the whole process, sat silently while the debate drifted further and further from any coherence and, by extension, possible support for any “plan” including her own “One City”.  Rather than letting the genie out of the bottle and getting three well-chosen wishes for her transit scheme, Stintz is revealed as a Sorceror’s Apprentice who cannot control the blind forces she has unleashed.

Procedurally, there is one hope: any formal change to last fall’s LRT-based agreement between Toronto and Metrolinx would require a 2/3 majority of Council to be reopened.  This may block some of the more outrageous schemes for a time, but won’t undo the damage of  a divisive, if-I-don’t-get-a-subway-I-won’t-play attitude on Council.

At Queen’s Park, the Tories must be rubbing their hands with delight at yet another chance to embarrass the Wynne government.  Meanwhile, the NDP, utterly incapable of actually making a decision without weeks of polling and “conversations”, shows no coherent leadership, and the Liberals have to deal with a fifth column of anti-Wynne Scarborough MPPs.

I must not leave out the transit agencies here.  Metrolinx has been notoriously unwilling to actually defend its plan by fleshing out details, providing accurate information about what it will build, how long this will take and how much it will cost.  The TTC produced a report in January 2013 comparing the subway and LRT options that included costs we now know overstate the LRT option by $500m.  Is this incompetence or an underhand attempt to make the subway option look better than it really is?

Amusingly, some Councillors such as Speaker Nunziata are happy to attack the TTC for being incapable of doing anything right, notably the “St. Clair disaster” which also figured in the debate.  However, they are more than happy to cite a bogus comparison of technologies.

As I have written before, there may be an argument for some subway expansion provided that this is based on trustworth projections of costs and benefits (yes, I know, I’m sounding like the Board of Trade here), not on rosy-eyed dreams of development and transit demand in every corner of the city.  None of the debates, including some of the input to The Big Move, rests on such a foundation, and “planning” consists of issuing boxes of crayons to a kindergarten class.

Toronto deserves so much better, but we are unlikely to see it, and a chance to actually build the transit we need may be lost for at least a decade.

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50 Responses to Irresponsible Madness at City Hall (Update 2)

  1. Rob says:

    I watched a bit on local tv. It was interesting. What I don’t understand is that Councillor De Baeremaeker said he looked at the business case of the extension of the BD subway into Scarborough and that made sense to him compared to the business case for a Sheppard subway extension. But, as you pointed out Steve in your article in the Torontoist, the business case for Scarborough is to build an LRT – there’s no question. It reaches more people, more rail is built and stations included and it’s cheaper than a subway extension. This is worse than pandering on De Baeremaeker’s part. I don’t know how you were able to stomach the entire conversation.

  2. ADifferentMichaelS says:

    What a gong show. Couldn’t the speaker (bless her diplomatic soul) have reined in debate to focus on the revenue tools, as the topic was supposed to be, instead of allowing conversation on individual projects to unfold?

  3. Joe Q. says:

    Steve writes: “What is overwhelmingly evident is the leadership vacuum at City Hall.”

    This is the crux of it IMO. The Mayor has little to no credibility on the transit file in general, and little actual influence on anyone except that handful of councillors who still have their wagons hitched to him.

  4. Jamie says:

    Dear God … what about the DRL? Apparently we are back to the “subway in every suburban pot” days. The DRL is the single most important subway addition for the network, and the one that actually has demand to justify it. It is also critical for the overall subway network. Of course just about everyone on this site knows that.

    It is both sad and amusing that the Scarborough councillors refuse to look at the how a Scarborough Subway would compromise a really complete, integrated LRT network, that would enrich mobility for a vastly greater number of people. With Sheppard East LRT, SLRT, Eglinton and Scarborough-Malvern LRT, Scarborough is hardly being humbugged by downtown, pinko commies like me (despite living closer to Scarborough than downtown, I’m sure Doug Ford would count me in).

    The other maddening thing, otherwise intelligent people are willfully ignoring the fact that the SLRT is really, really, high quality transit. A grade separated electric rail line … kinda like a subway. Given it does not have the capacity that a 6 car TR set has, but it is certainly well within the range of potential ridership, especially if the entire network in Scarborough is built and the TTC moves away from funnelling people into the STC.

    I have a sinking feeling nothing is ever going to happen … and those bastards at City Hall will blame everyone but themselves.

  5. David Berman says:

    The transit problem is clearly fiscal. We do not have the resources to buy the things we want.

    Time is being wasted by our councillors. Each year we stall, the prices go up, probably more than general inflation.

    I am one of the thousands living in Toronto who have no choice but to use public transit each day. It’s just sad how local politicians won’t open their eyes and see how, as a group, they’re hurting all of us by bickering.

  6. L. Wall says:

    What a gong show. Couldn’t the speaker (bless her diplomatic soul) have reined in debate to focus on the revenue tools, as the topic was supposed to be, instead of allowing conversation on individual projects to unfold?

    Do you mean this speaker?

    Other councillors in the mayor’s camp warned that “revenue tools” is a code word the province is using to raise taxes. “Are we crazy? We’re crazy,” councillor Frances Nunziata said about the willingness of her council colleagues even to discuss the matter.

  7. Michael Hobble says:

    “Not content to stop at one subway, other members of Council have started to chime in with their pet projects including a Bloor West subway, the Sheppard east and west extensions (the latter dubbed the “Pasternak Relief Line” by some), a totally grade-separated line on Finch, and a resurrected Jane LRT. The combined additions to the network cost are astronomical, but that’s not really what Councillors care about.”

    I think the whole point of guaranteeing revenue streams means we do not have to wed ourselves or limit our options to those laid out in the Big Move. Apart from the Jane Line, is there really anything in that list of proposals that’s not warranted and needed? It would be wise to remember the importance of a one-seat ride wherever possible. There’s no logic behind, for instance, having a crosstown trip north of the 401 handled by five separate services (Finch LRT, Finch/Sheppard bus, Sheppard stubway, Sheppard LRT, inbound bus/LRT to the Scarborough Centre) when one grade-separated rapid transit service could suffice. If $100 billion could be raised over 30 years we can more than afford to complete the Sheppard Line and even extend it beyond Downsview and SCC, a DRL, Eglinton Crosstown to Pearson and UTSC and Bloor-Danforth to Square One and Steeles/McCowan, and the YUS extensions. One of the strongest arguments against building subways: capital costs dissipates once the funding’s guaranteed.

    Steve: There is a fundamental problem with the Toronto focus on subway lines: The revenue tools will be applied across the GTHA, and the 905 is not too happy about the amount of money to be spent within the 416 already. The more subway lines we add to the plan, the more off-balanced the spending will become. If the 905 pays 50% or more of the total new taxes, but gets well under 50% of the benefit from new lines, this will not be politically viable.

    If Toronto politicians want spending on this level within their city, they must be prepared to pay for at least part of it from local, not regional or provincial funding.

  8. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Steve said:

    Rather than letting the genie out of the bottle and getting three well-chosen wishes for her transit scheme, Stintz is revealed as a Sorceror’s Apprentice who cannot control the blind forces she has unleashed.

    That is a great analogy. I’m now waiting for the Sorcerer to return (hoping in my heart that the Sorcerer is truly a sorcerer rather than a fraudulent “man behind the curtain”). Stintz did make a statement suggesting that she understands the damage done and would accept it if the province and Metrolinx choose against reopening the LRT agreement. It’s a cop-out but better than nothing.

    Steve writes:

    “What is overwhelmingly evident is the leadership vacuum at City Hall.”

    Joe Q said:

    This is the crux of it IMO. The Mayor has little to no credibility on the transit file in general, and little actual influence on anyone except that handful of councillors who still have their wagons hitched to him.

    And borrowing from Steve’s crayon box to kindergarteners analogy, there is a reason why teachers are an important factor in education and leadership and why the best education systems (Finland for one) demand the best of their teachers. It’s quite clear from this embarrassing display at council that we truly do not demand enough of our political “leaders” … at least in Toronto and the GTHA.

    I can see from all the tweets that there are some young people who are shocked and disappointed by council today. Maybe some will be motivated to take action.

    Cheers, Moaz

  9. Josh says:

    While I think there is something to be said for extending the BD line east – at least as much as it makes since to take the Yonge line to Richmond Hill or the Spadina line to Vaughan – the LRT makes more sense, costs less, would serve a similar number of people, and allow for more stations. And it would be built faster. And more cheaply, with greater flexibility for future expansion.

    The *only* potential downside would be the transfer at Kennedy, which frankly is a pretty minor issue that people at Yonge-Bloor and St George manage alright. There’s nothing wrong with quick transfers, and the future presence of the Eglinton LRT at Kennedy will probably increase the number of transfers more generally.

    I suppose at a certain point I’m glad I don’t live in Toronto. Not to say that municipal politicians are of much greater quality elsewhere, but TO City Council seems to bring out the very worst in pandering, buffoonery, and general stupidity. And all this is because people think that subways are some sort of golden ticket to fast transit, rather than, say, advocating for better more reliable buses. In the meantime, the likes of the silverspoon Fords would sooner be stuck in traffic on King W for eternity than pay an extra penny or two on a cup of coffee. Frustrating is too weak a word. It is beyond appalling and even if the province decided to abolish Council and hand over governance of the city to a temporary supervisor I would not protest.

  10. Richard L says:

    I think phase 1 of the Big Move spoiled taxpayers since it was largely funded with “free money”. It’s hard to accept that one has to pay to get phase 2.

    (By “free money”, I mean money obtained without raising new taxes for individuals or charging user fees. “Free money” seems to come inconspicuously from existing general revenues and from debt. Rob Ford used the term to reject federal funding for a “hug-a-thug” program saying it was taxpayer money not “free money”. Nonetheless, he was going to ask senior governments for more “free money” for the Sheppard subway.)

    One question I have is how did the provincial government find all the “free money” for phase 1 since relatively little came from other levels of government. If the “free money” came from debt, that might be the reason it is no longer a sustainable source of funding.

    It seems that other parties are looking at finding new sources of “free money”, the NDP by eliminating tax credits for businesses, and the PC by cutting programs such as those related to the environment. Doug Holyday recently said that other revenue sources exist. This all sounds like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    Steve: The phase 1 funding comes from general revenues, and so we are looking at debt to the extent that the provincial deficit is a proportion of its year-by-year budget. (That is, if the budget is $1-billion, but the revenue is only $900m and the rest is borrowed, then it would be fair to say that 10% of any spending from general revenue is borrowed. That’s now how they actually do the accounting, however, and borrowing is often earmarked against specific projects, certainly in the case of Metrolinx. The province treats, say, the new Eglinton line as a capital asset which offsets the debt on their books. A further complication is that part of the “free money” will come from the private sector as part of the PPP arrangements. This effectively becomes a debt to be paid off through the ongoing operating agreement.

  11. Robert Wightman says:

    Toronto isn’t the only city with off the wall politicians. Did you see the article in today’s Star where Brampton’s mayor wants to replace the Hurontario LRT with an extended ZUM 502 service to Port Credit. Brampton seems to be more committed to running good express service than MiWay. BRT light until the LRT but not in place of it.

    Brampton has designed their BRT stations so that they can be lifted from there side of the road location and lowered into an LRT station. While she wants transit she doesn’t seem to want any taxes to pay for it.

  12. Bob But Not Doug says:

    The mayor has no credibility on the transit file, yet a voting majority of councilors voted to shoot down revenue tools the way he wanted? I really don’t understand this city, but I have a feeling that when the autopsy of T.O. transit is written the cause of death will be listed as amalgamation.

  13. Mikey says:

    “… and the Liberals have to deal with a fifth column of anti-Wynne Scarborough MPPs.”

    I’m afraid I have not heard about this before anywhere. Can you enlighten me?

    Come to think of it, is this related to the Scarborough Subway mania? Or do these MPP’s have other issues with Wynne?

    Steve: The supporters of Sandra Pupatello’s leadership bid may still be working to undermine Wynne’s premiership according to some of my City Hall sources. That they might, in the process, bring down the Liberal government, takes a back seat to regaining control of the party.

  14. A TTC driver says:

    This is so incredibly sad and extremely frustrating to me and other drivers. This posturing and grandstanding must end for the good of the city and the TTC. Compared to many cities around the world, the TTC looks archaic. For goodness sakes, would someone please show some leadership here!

    When Toronto won the Pan Am games, I was overjoyed. Finally, I thought, we will get some transit expansion done as the city and province will want to look there best for the games and the accompanying media and tourists to come. But no, the politicians can’t even get that done right.

    Sigh … this is really depressing.

  15. Peter says:

    Gong show is right. What a joke this council is.
    And Wednesday’s debate was only the beginning.
    Today (Thursday)’s debate was the cherry on top.
    I can’t wait for Steve to rip apart the stellar performance of this council today.

    Steve: I am not going to waste my time on that bunch of clowns who do nothing more than serve their own posturing agendas when they’re not fighting surrogate battles for their friends at Queen’s Park.

  16. Ian Folkard says:

    What a disgraceful spectacle. A few more meetings like this and they will make Ford look sane.

  17. Mikey says:

    “The supporters of Sandra Pupatello’s leadership bid may still be working to undermine Wynne’s premiership according to some of my City Hall sources.”

    That is so sad!

    It’s also interesting that I remember Pupatello as the candidate obsessed with winning and crushing the enemy. I can’t and would never support such a politician so hell-bent on defeating opponents. If I’m interpreting your comment correctly, Pupatello supporters in Scarborough are sore losers?

    What a contrast to Wynne’s governance style of constantly trying to find common ground with political foes.

  18. George Bell says:

    Steve:

    There is a fundamental problem with the Toronto focus on subway lines: The revenue tools will be applied across the GTHA, and the 905 is not too happy about the amount of money to be spent within the 416 already. The more subway lines we add to the plan, the more off-balanced the spending will become. If the 905 pays 50% or more of the total new taxes, but gets well under 50% of the benefit from new lines, this will not be politically viable.

    In fact the only two major things we are getting with these funding tools in Toronto are subways – DRL and Yonge (and some electrical upgrades on GO) … there are no LRT’s proposed in the second wave for Toronto … we may end up getting a waterfront LRT if we spend our 25% on it … but it could just as well go to buses or swan boats.

    I think the major problem with the wave 2 plan as it stands now is that not enough people in Toronto will benefit from those two lines … they are really localized to the north and the east parts of the city, with very little practical benefit to anyone west of Yonge.

    Potentially there are some sweeteners that could be thrown in for Scarborough and Etobicoke – Malvern, Eglinton->Airport, Jane … but unless the money actually gets approved (and the government doesn’t fall) then we can’t get to that discussion. Realistically even if the funding is there, today proved you can’t have a rational discussion until the contracts and the shovels are far enough along that everyone just accepts what has been done so far.

  19. Karl Junkin says:

    There is a benefit to those west of Yonge from a DRL, as University-Spadina riders will have more reliable service from Yonge alleviation. Don’t forget that a problem at Davisville can cause problems for service on University since they’re the same line.

  20. James says:

    There was a point in the debate on Wednesday when Councillor Berardinetti started to talk about the ECLRT and the preferential treatment that the riding of Don Valley West was receiving (this is the Premier’s riding). As far as I remember, she wasn’t able to make her point in her allotted speaking time and no one ever talked about this again.

    This seemed odd to me as her husband is a Liberal MPP (who supported Sousa).

    Steve: Her point was that Metrolinx was spending extra money to bury the Eglinton line between Brentcliffe and Don Mills (as discussed elsewhere on this site) and, by implication, that this was somehow a “goodie” for Premier Wynne. However, the idea of tunnelling all the way to Don Mills has been around for some time and is related to various engineering issues, not to the incumbent MPP’s new role.

    This is an example of sniping at Wynne that lies just below the surface of the Scarborough Liberals’ support for the subway option.

  21. Michael Forest says:

    It is regrettable that the Council failed to endorse any of the proposed revenue tool.

    However, the glass is half full. The positive side is that the debate signifies the public appetite for transit expansion.

    IMO, it would be worse if the debate did not happen at all.

  22. Adam says:

    “The supporters of Sandra Pupatello’s leadership bid may still be working to undermine Wynne’s premiership according to some of my City Hall sources.”

    Perhaps there are Liberals who are embarrassed by the crass disregard for democracy that Wynne and her supporters have (gas plant scandal, prorogued legislature, missing or withheld documents, lies or misinformed statements about costs to taxpayers, ect.), take their duty to fellow citizens seriously and are FOR the electorate having a say either through an immediate election or political gridlock until the new premier has no choice but to seek her own mandate.

    Steve: Oh please! You obviously have contempt for the government, but actually believe that there are a few altruistic folks who are fighting Wynne for integrity through Toronto Council?

  23. Saurabh Gupta says:

    I have never been so disappointed in the councilors than yesterday. The mayor and his allies have proven that they are not capable of leading, but the rest of the councilors who were standing up to him previously just dropped the ball.

  24. Christopher Brown says:

    I saw a line in the article about Metrolinx dividing Go capital and operations from the Big Move funding. Why would Toronto city council even put that forward? At the same time as rejecting most funding tools? At the same time as asking for what 4-5 new subway expansions? How selfish of them. Go Transit may not matter to Toronto but it matters to the rest of the GTHA and frankly, Go Train expansion on the other 5 lines is probably the most important piece of the transit puzzle when it comes to limiting gridlock throughout the region.

  25. Christopher Brown says:

    Btw, Brampton mayor Susan Fennell only suggested the Zum extension to Lakeshore to get Brampton Transit users direct access to the Lakeshore Go Trains while Brampton waits (and waits… and waits) for better Go Train service of its own, as Metrolinx continues to hedge on exactly what kind of service Brampton can expect come 2015. I don’t necessarily agree with her statement but I do share her frustration. Rumours hold everything from two way all day to doubling of current service to “about 10 more trips” to a few extra trips etc. I commute into TO during the afternoon, sitting in traffic on either the 401 or the Gardiner for over an hour at times, and back to Bram. at night on buses that are crowded even when there are no Leafs, Blue Jays, Raptors, TFC or other major events downtown. All the while wishing there were some alternative other than buying a car. (Which still wouldn’t help me in the afternoons.)

    The Big Move website does mention about 10 more trips but they need to be more clear as to what kind of service and ballpark time of day we can expect to see said service.

  26. Dean Girard says:

    Steve,

    I have only been made aware of the current shenanigans at City Hall vicariously through this website and your and readers’ comments and also CBC Radio’s various interviews with both Councillors and commentators on the periphery. Like many of the readers here I am shaking my head and today I am only able to control my frustration – nay, my RAGE – at the idiocy that poses as “debate” at Queen & Bay by quietly thinking, hoping to myself, “Please, Toronto voters, citizens, please wake up before 2014 and take back your City.”

    I have always wondered how many Councillors actually USE public transit – and to what extent – to get themselves to City Hall as well as in their personal lives as either just “people” or doing other city-related tasks. Because it strikes me that part of the issue is empathy: when you haven’t actually been squished at the front end of a Finch Avenue bus or a southbound Yonge subway train at 8:30 a.m. or waiting for a never-arriving 501 streetcar west of the Humber Loop or dealing with the RT being down or slowed or… how can you actually appreciate what constituents might be telling you about the “problem” with public transit in Toronto and the frustration with nothing of any scale or impact having been discussed, planned and built withing the past generation (yes, I’m generalizing, but….)

    My recent dream (and yes, I am not fantasizing that it is anything but pure pie-in-the-sky thinking) is to have local students ask City Councillors to do the “green thing” and reduce their carbon footprint for a week by using public transit to get around so the students can track the environmental impact. I realize up front that this skews the “easy transit” travel to inner city Councillors due to the presence of the subway while those poor suburban Councillors are stuck with that second- or third-class bus or streetcar (thereby reinforcing Mayor Ford’s “Subways, subways subways” mantra – never mind that old ladies who don’t have a subway stopping right at their door might actually need “local”-level transit (bus, streetcar) to get to said subway, if actually necessary, or those “other” modes just to get around.

    I already know that Councillors will say, self-importantly, that they “just wouldn’t be able to get around the city to do everything they have to do for their constituents by using the transit system.” Yet, in the same breath they will completely stop the discussion about improving transit while their very constituents – who, by silent implication are somehow not as important – crowd onto ever more packed transit vehicles with less and less funding and less and less service. Empathy, it would appear from the viewpoint of our current Mayor and several other Councillors who subscribe to his view of the world, is dead. Just a small reason why politicking at City Hall has become what it has.

    Dean

  27. Michael says:

    Cost aside, I’m not sure there’s much credence to the arguments for extending the B-D line instead of building an LRT based on the elimination of a transfer at Kennedy station. The LRT will be directly accessible to more people by foot than a subway extension. With fewer subway stations accessible for pedestrians, more subway riders would have to take buses to get to this extended subway line. So by arguing for subway over LRT because it ‘eliminates the transfer’, all it really says is that a number of riders would rather transfer from bus to subway than from LRT to subway. I’m not sure that’s much of an improvement.

  28. Mikey says:

    Didn’t Sameh Ghaly say that Metrolinx’s preferred alignment across Leslie Street was more expensive than the original surface alignment? Do you know if he considered all cost components, including the constraint space east of Brentcliffe, contaminated soil, etc. in his answer?

    Steve: I have heard too many stories about the trade-offs for the Brentcliffe to Don Mills section to be able to believe any of them completely. Part of the problem is that public statements are often made by staffers who have been briefed, but don’t understand the subtleties, and often get things wrong.

  29. Stephen Cheung says:

    The Bad: the lunacy with regards to subway lines in every corner. Ford still doesn’t get that part of fiscal responsibility.

    The Good: After the boondoggles that we have had to deal with, it is good to find that there are politicians who detest the idea of new taxes without any guarantee of the money being spent properly, the budgets properly planned, and cronyism put in its place. Ford has made major points on this, we just wish he was smarter about it. I’ve said this before, the fiscal house needs to be cleaned up, costs brought down, processes put in place to ensure we get the best bang for the buck on major projects, etc. Unfortunately, I have grown tired of Ford and his antics and have now said he is unfit for mayor. Such a pity, he would have done well had he expanded on his consensus building abilities when he was councillor.

    The Ugly: With all the talk of the Mammoliti and Pasternak Lines, when are we getting the Munro Swan Line? Takers on when this will be completed?

    Steve: An international RFP will be issued for a Swan Boat system to be implemented by a PPP. The project cannot start, however, until Infrastructure Ontario figures out the contract language to manage the breeding site for the, er, fleet, and ensures that there will be at least 30% Ontario content. This may be achieved by feeding the swans with grain grown at Queen’s Park using first class Ontario manure available in large supply nearby.

    Extensive consultation will be required to determine the colour scheme.

  30. Phil Piltch says:

    I didn’t bother trying to follow the debate but did hear some of the much played sound bites. Seems to me the campaigning for October 2014 is now fully under way as various councillors try to score points with their constituents by promoting subway lines or rejecting any of the proposed revenue tools as tax increases regardless of what actually happens. I can’t help but think of the phrase “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” but in this case taking things further in arguing how they should be arranged and by whom.

    What should have been a fairly simple debate over whether to support the proposed funding tool became a fight over pet mega-projects. Interestingly, I read an article by Joell Vanderwagen that appeared in the April 29th edition of the Star cautioning about raising new taxes for transit without a clear idea of what we should build; in the first paragraph she writes:

    Before we raise new taxes for new transit services, we need to ask and answer some basic questions, beginning with: “What is our purpose?” Do we want to move people or build expensive projects? Do we want to relieve congestion or provide lucrative contracts for big consortiums?

    I sure hope the Big Move is the former (to relieve congestion) and not the latter. Certainly that is what Toronto City council should have been debating regarding the funding tools.

    Phil

  31. Nick L says:

    Richard L said: and the PC by cutting programs such as those related to the environment.

    The problem is, the PC are doubling down on the “free money” sales pitch by emphasizing that their first priority is tax cuts. So not only will they find efficiencies (the code word for service cuts), but they will be so vast that they can find two billion dollars annually for transit while making significant tax cuts and getting the deficit & debt under control and no one will notice a change in service levels. At this point, anyone who can add should be looking for a phone just in case the headache they are now feeling is actually a stroke.

    As for the NDP, their behaviour in this minority government has indicated that they are no better than the PC in that they will say one thing before doing something else.

    If it wasn’t so depressing, it would be quite funny that neither opposition party has learned that the reason why people voted for the Liberals again in the last provincial election. Simply put, we didn’t like them but we knew that all three parties were going to stab the people in Ontario in the back in some way. As a result, it was best to keep the knife that was already in our back rather than to have it yanked out and replaced with a new one.

    As for the circus at city hall, as depressing as it is for me to say this, the province should just come out an say that Toronto is only entitled to their proportional share of all revenue tools that they didn’t vote against. For council to basically say that they are against any burden but that they are entitled to all rewards is the worst kind of political dishonesty and, as much as I hate to say it, that needs to be punished.

  32. David O'Rourke says:

    When I see how some of the councillors voted I am very disappointed. Rob Ford has his toadies but there are others who I thought had brains. Dare I hope that the province will just ignore the lot this time around and that is something I thought I would never say.

  33. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Christopher Brown said:

    Brampton mayor Susan Fennell only suggested the Zum extension to Lakeshore to get Brampton Transit users direct access to the Lakeshore Go Trains while Brampton waits (and waits… and waits) for better Go Train service of its own.

    I feel for Brampton but alienating the most powerful mayor in the GTA while undermining your best local Big Move project is probably not the best way to make a point.

    Perhaps Fennell could offer to run a ZUM bus down Dixie to connect with Bramalea GO, the Mississauga BRT/transitway, Dixie GO and Long Branch GO instead.

    She could also suggest that MiWay offer better service on the Hurontario corridor (since the MiExpress 103 doesn’t operate every day of the week) and perhaps upgrade the bus stops in Mississauga to the ZUM level (large, simple modular design with live info) as well.

    Cheers, Moaz

  34. Robert Wightman says:

    Christopher Brown says:

    May 10, 2013 at 10:29 am

    “Btw, Brampton mayor Susan Fennell only suggested the Zum extension to Lakeshore to get Brampton Transit users direct access to the Lakeshore Go Trains while Brampton waits (and waits… and waits) for better Go Train service of its own, as Metrolinx continues to hedge on exactly what kind of service Brampton can expect come 2015.”

    Yes, the Star report ignored this fact but today’s Brampton paper mentioned it. She is still against any new taxes. Everyone in Brampton is pissed about the delay in all day GO service so the UPex line can run.

  35. Yann L says:

    I’m always surprised at how short-sighted Toronto (and generally speaking, Canadian) politicians can be. All the great cities in the world (think Paris, London, Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, New York) have a first-class subway system, with hundreds of stations and sometimes tens of lines.

    Without the shadow of a doubt, none of those cities would be where it is now with 2.5 subway lines like we have here. Very clearly, a good transit system is a creator of wealth, not a money pit. How can this be so completely missed?

    Steve: Those cities had populations in the millions when Bloor Street was still out in the countryside. In most cases, the large scale of their subway networks dates from a period when there were no autos to contend with, and a very large population was densely clustered making a subway network viable, even for private companies to build.

    Los Angeles and its sprawl were built by surface rail lines, both streetcars and “interurbans” running more like railways or LRT. London and many other cities had extensive streetcar systems that were, in some cases, the victim of a car-oriented “streetcars are outmoded” attitude and a desire to give more road space to car drivers.

    There are places in Toronto that deserve new subway lines, but not under every arterial and in every councillor’s back yard.

  36. W. K. Lis says:

    Unfortunately, Toronto is being led by a new Family Compact. This 21st century Ford Family Compact is a political clique that is anti-transit and anti-bicycle, but are very pro-automobile.

    This Ford Family compact of Rob Ford, Doug Ford, Frances Nunziata, Doug Holyday, Giorgio Mammoliti , Denzil Minnan-Wong, and others continue to fight against improving public transit within Toronto. They just don’t want to spend a penny (or nickel) for a transit-oriented Toronto.

    Maybe this century’s Family Compact should put migalki (flashing blue lights) on top of their cars so can travel better on Toronto streets, like they do in Moscow.

  37. hamish wilson says:

    In some ways it was a deepressing debate – but at least it was held; there’s a bit of a hint of which way to go for extra revenue (though very disappointingly scant to no support for a VRT tho I think we have a grid connection fee for electricity); and another positive is that many many more people are aware and concerned about how how Fordked up the transit “planning” actually is here in Caronto. Pardon the wordplay; but since the facts don’t seem to matter, why not have some fun? Especially if maybe it helps folks like Steve, Gord, etc. have a laugh since it’s sooooo atrocious.

    Two new terms emerged yesterday from my twisted mind: “Clowncillors” and thus “Clowncil” – with some respect to some of those there who are trying hard, and who do “get” things. However, the unanimous vote to ask the feds for money – of course it’s a point given how other places have national-level support for transit etc. – but it does have some gall. There’s something called “clean hands” ie. you need to try to do a lot of things wthiin your own purview ahead of pointing fingers etc….

    More seriously, since we don’t have local gasoline to burn, what happens when gas gets up to $2 a litre after something blows up somewhere? Is there any energy policy or does it follow the federal level one of “burn, burn, burn”?

    Steve: Frankly, I believe that it would take a huge and permanent increase in fuel costs to pry people out of their cars, especially if they have no reasonable transit alternative. If fuel really were a problem, we would face at least a decade’s backlog just to provide transit service on the major car-oriented corridors, particularly those that do not come downtown.

  38. I concur with having a DRL – we need it, and if properly built (i.e. forming a large ‘U’ shape below the B-D line, and heading north of the B-D line to connect with LRT lines like Eglinton) would move people. And I agree with the City’s decision to oppose the Yonge Street extension. The DRL is more important at the moment – although perhaps a short extension of the Yonge Line from Finch to Steeles might help a bit as YRT services, plue the Steeles Avenue buses could be moved to Steeles, while other routes continue to use Finch.

    As for funding, we still live in the day of the car. This will not change overnight. However, it’s also a double edged sword. If you make people pay more now for transit expansion that hasn’t even started then you are committing political suicide. However, you can’t have better transit without raising more money.

  39. RishiL says:

    So the last few days were anarchy and many councillors showed themselves up to being as useless & short-sighted as they really are. While we are all greatly disappointed, I hope everyone’s memory doesn’t fail them in 18 months’ time.

    That being said, I am trying (very hard I might add), to look at the glass half-full approach. I followed the debate along intently and there are a couple “positives” that are acceptable I guess…

    (I am extracting this as best I can and adding some anecdotal notes. I may be slightly off, but I *think* I have the gist of the ‘good news’)

    1) Yes they explicitly rejected 14 rev tools, but they didn’t reject nor ‘approve’ 2 (sales tax & dev charges). Silence is consent? The overarching narrative by many was that this is a provincial problem, and any “revenue tools” should be pushed by the Libs, and the city is pushing back on instituting local/municipal dev tools. I somewhat get that, because they want to ensure uniformity across the region.

    2) The Metrolinx master agreement was not reopened. Yes, requests & desire for further study will be sent to chief planner and SRT-subway will be part of Metrolinx report from council, but that’s all they are. They are not binding so at least for now, the existing plan is untouched (probably until our next prov. election).

    3) There was a vote that indicated that council supported that we needed regional revenue tools as a whole.

    4) There was a vote to support Metrolinx’s efforts & big move to solve regional issues.

    5) Vote supported requesting the province for 50% operating subsidy (like all the fancy “world-class” cities that tend to get referenced incessantly).

    6) There was a vote that supported more capital injection for transit projects from provincial & federal government.

    7) Vote supported 25% of funding goes back to municipalities for discretionary spending. Yhis is consistent with what M-lnx been saying all along so good that they support it.

    8) Vote supported a request to M-lnx to consider bringing politicians & accountable representatives to their board. This is one that I think is interesting. My political leanings aside, there have been several instances at the prov/fed level when an arm’s length gov’t org mismanages funding etc. The worry is that Metrolinx is on their way down the same path, so I think it’s reasonable that there be an elected representative from each of the 5-6 municipal regions, on the board as they are stakeholders. While I know that politicking can make things more difficult, it does bring a level of added accountability to the org does it not? I’m not sure how the board works, nor the size of it, nor what type of seat at the table or input that Wynne/Murray have, but this is probably a good idea for long term support.

    Steve: The current board is all appointed by the Cabinet, and includes no politicians and few with any transportation planning background. While it can be argued that keeping politicians’ hands “out of the cookie jar”, the absence of political input at this level means that planning is done largely in secret and the board is more-or-less captive to the information provided by staff. Considering the amount of money involved, this is not a good example of accountability.

    And finally, Steve, if you’re still reading this, I would love to see a post in the future comparing the possibilities of an integrated 1-system/branded transit region for the GTHA vs. what is done in NYC with the MTA, London, Paris etc. I believe that while our system(s) are much smaller, the land area covered is comparable. I’ve seen many times on this blog (and we’ve seem with amalgamation) that bigger isn’t always better, but I’d be very interested to understand why it “works” (or may not), for other large cities. I know there is thoughts that we remove control from the local municipalities so someone who isn’t on the ground and doesn’t understand regional dynamics makes decisions would impact service, but I’m curious.

    Please feel free to tell me where I’ve erred in my understanding/analysis. :)

    Steve: Unification of service from a rider’s point of view does not require unification of all of the agencies planning and providing that service. In the GTHA, the fundamental problem has been that Queen’s Park knows a truly integrated system will cost it money. GO cannot continue to charge premium fares with no discount to TTC riders if it turns into a regional rapid transit network. Integration of service across municipal boundaries requires revenue pooling between the regional operators whether this be handled with a distance-based fare, a zone system, or simply a head count. As things stand, anyone crossing a border pays a full new fare to cross that line except in the instances where a service runs “closed door” to get to a subway terminal such as at Finch and at Islington. Even the new Airport link is a separate fare zone, a premium one at that, rather than an integrated part of the local transit system.

    We discuss the disposition of billions intended for capital costs, but never talk about the money needed to provide true service and fare integration. As long as municipalities are left holding the bag, we will get only as much service as they feel, politically, they can afford and fare integration will never happen.

  40. Neville Ross says:

    I’m always surprised at how short-sighted Toronto (and generally speaking, Canadian) politicians can be. All the great cities in the world (think Paris, London, Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, New York) have a first-class subway system, with hundreds of stations and sometimes tens of lines.

    Without the shadow of a doubt, none of those cities would be where it is now with 2.5 subway lines like we have here. Very clearly, a good transit system is a creator of wealth, not a money pit. How can this be so completely missed?

    Steve: Those cities had populations in the millions when Bloor Street was still out in the countryside. In most cases, the large scale of their subway networks dates from a period when there were no autos to contend with, and a very large population was densely clustered making a subway network viable, even for private companies to build.

    Los Angeles and its sprawl were built by surface rail lines, both streetcars and “interurbans” running more like railways or LRT. London and many other cities had extensive streetcar systems that were, in some cases, the victim of a car-oriented “streetcars are outmoded” attitude and a desire to give more road space to car drivers.

    There are places in Toronto that deserve new subway lines, but not under every arterial and in every councillor’s back yard.

    As well, consider that Toronto didn’t get a penny of funding for the subway (the original Eglington-to-Union line and extensions, as well as the BDL) from the federal government when asked to do so back in the early 50s, and this state of affairs hasn’t really changed since then. Add to which, past administrations didn’t have a crystal ball to see into the future and tell then that new subways needed to be built here and there. Also, so much underground infrastructure has been built, that destroying it just to get subways built would cause problems in Toronto generally. To be sure, I (as a young boy living in North York [Willowdale at the corner of Van Horne and Edmonton] and Scarborough [Agincourt, near Finch and Pharmacy] during the 70s and 80s) would’ve loved to have a subway branch line that went all the way from Victoria Park Station up to Victoria Park and Finch, or Victoria Park and Steeles, as well as one that went all the way from Sheppard Station up to near Van Horne itself as well as have similar branch lines into suburban Toronto generally, but that was the way things were back then, and the TTC subway was planned for as well as it could have been planned for.

    Another point I’d like to make in relation to subways; IMHO (again), subways are nothing but troglodyte transit. They cut off people from the pulse, life and bustle of a city, and also do nothing but reinforce the car as a mode of transport; if I built and designed a city, most public transit would be streetcars and light rail, not buses and subways. That’s what we should be building more of (the light rail), not subways, which are just hideously expensive and take too long to build as it is (DRL expected.)

    With regards to the meeting; we need to get somebody like Miller (or Chow) as mayor, or Toronto’s in for a ‘mess ‘o potamia’.

  41. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    RishiL said:

    The worry is that Metrolinx is on their way down the same path, so I think it’s reasonable that there be an elected representative from each of the 5-6 municipal regions, on the board as they are stakeholders.

    The former Greater Toronto Services Board had representatives from each municipality and collapsed under its own bureaucratic weight and infighting. Metrolinx was not able to handle having politicians on the board when each municipality had a voice.

    Perhaps the best solution is to move transit up to the “Regional Municipality” level and each Regional Municipality would get one seat for their mayor/chair.

    Toronto and Hamilton are already regional regional municipalities in their own right. York and Durham already have transit at the Regional Municipality level. In Peel, Brampton and Mississauga run transit as city divisions. I’m not sure how Milton, Oakville and Burlington run their services … but I don’t think there would be a huge objection if Metrolinx stepped in to help with the organization and the funds for the transition.

    Of course this assumes that a board with some municipal representatives would not be as dysfunctional as the GTSB or have as many issues as Metrolinx boards. And for the moment I could see Hazel McCallion and Susan Fennell fight the idea tooth and nail … but they won’t be mayors forever.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: Given the current political uncertainty, I think that Metrolinx and Queen’s Park have to get their own houses in order before messing with the governance structure for Metrolinx. Once (if?) Toronto gets a Mayor who believes in transit and can forge a coherent position for Council, we can have this discussion in an environment where we are not trying to Ford-proof the system.

  42. Kevin Love says:

    I am very disappointed in the lack of maturity and childish, clownish behaviour on display.

    Rob Ford and his supporters make an easy target with their mythical “gravy” from which we were supposed to have got millions of dollars by now. Except there wasn’t any so it didn’t happen.

    Mr. Ford’s imaginary friends in the “private sector” were supposed to line up to fund subways. Unfortunately, no one else can see his imaginary friends.

    It is easy to make fun of Mr. Ford, but the NDP is doing exactly the same thing with their mythical “Corporate Tax Loopholes” which they decline to actually identify. Newsflash to NDP: The Income Tax Act is not a top-secret classified document which you are not allowed to read until you form the government.

    If these people actually believe what they are saying then they are fools. Rob Ford appears to fall into this category. But I suspect that most of them are not fools but liars who know full well that what they are saying is nonsense.

    Steve: My complaint with the NDP is that the “loopholes” are well-defined, but they have been inconsistent in saying what they would use the extra revenue to fund. It seems to depend on whatever speech they are making. Their policy paper shows more money going to taking HST off of auto fuel than to transit, and a good chunk of the latter is eaten up by funding a fare freeze, not new service or construction. Recent “consultation” by the NDP (the online poll) raises the option of a “Bank Tax” (something Ontario used to have), but the revenue from such a tax has not yet found its way into a published document.

  43. Kevin Love says:

    Steve,

    The NDP policy document you link to is a good example of exactly what I mean. For example, on pp 23-24 it complains about corporate tax rate cuts, but nowhere does it say that an NDP government would increase corporate tax rates by so much as one penny. Instead it commits an NDP government to further corporate tax rate cuts for small corporations all the way down to a token 4% tax rate.

    Same thing with loopholes. In this document I do not see one specific loophole that they commit to closing. Instead, we get MORE corporate tax loopholes. On page 24 there are two more corporate tax loopholes in the form of an investment tax credit and a training tax credit. Most companies are doing ongoing training to adapt to changes in technology, markets, etc. Does this mean I can say all my employees are doing on-the-job training all the time? Or are we going to get a whole new bureaucracy to analyze each job in every company every year to decide whether there is enough on-the-job training content to qualify for the tax credit?

    Irresponsible Madness…

    But wait, it gets worse… From page 25:

    “Corn is imported for use in our ethanol plants while local farmers struggle to find a market.”

    The number of corn farmers in Ontario that cannot market their corn is precisely zero. This statement is one of pure ignorance; whoever wrote it simply does not know what he is talking about.

    Steve: Not to mention that the whole ethanol fuel industry is a sop to Big Agro and is of dubious merit environmentally verging on greenwashing.

    But wait, it get worse…

    What really annoys me the most is the policies that are in direct contradiction to the NDP’s professed values. For example, advocating profoundly regressive tax policies such as taking the HST off of gasoline. This NDP tax loophole not only benefits car drivers, but gives the greatest benefit to drivers of gas-guzzling luxury cars.

    Steve: Yes, it is doubly amusing to listen to those who attack increased fuel taxes as being regressive.

    What really bothers me about this sort of thing is that I share the NDP’s professed values. I am on the side of the ordinary guy walking, cycling or taking public transit and I am NOT on the side of rich people driving luxury cars. I think that rich people, particularly luxury car drivers, should pay up to build infrastructure for walking, cycling and public transit.

  44. Neville Ross says:

    Steve: My complaint with the NDP is that the “loopholes” are well-defined, but they have been inconsistent in saying what they would use the extra revenue to fund. It seems to depend on whatever speech they are making. Their policy paper shows more money going to taking HST off of auto fuel than to transit, and a good chunk of the latter is eaten up by funding a fare freeze, not new service or construction. Recent “consultation” by the NDP (the online poll) raises the option of a “Bank Tax” (something Ontario used to have), but the revenue from such a tax has not yet found its way into a published document.

    I like the idea of a fare freeze; we’ve needed one for quite a while in Toronto generally-actually what we need is a fare reduction (to about $1.00) so that people can afford transit. A bank transaction tax isn’t a bad idea, either, and has been floating around in progressive circles for a while (although I’m with you about taking the HST off of auto fuel and not really funding transit-what’s up with that?)

  45. Kevin Love says:

    Steve wrote:

    “Yes, it is doubly amusing to listen to those who attack increased fuel taxes as being regressive.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    I agree. I am a social justice advocate who is firmly behind the NDP’s professed values. But I shake my head when they come out with cynical policies that are in direct contradiction to those values.

    For example, the 15% cut in car insurance rates. The two groups who benefit the most from that are:

    1) Owners of expensive luxury cars that cost a lot to insure because they are so expensive.

    2) Car drivers with bad driving records who pay high insurance rates because they have criminal convictions for criminal offenses such as “Dangerous Driving” because of their dangerous, reckless or negligent car driving behaviour.

    Are these the people that an NDP government should financially advantage?

    But it gets worse …

    As we all know, even if a car driver is a violent, dangerous criminal who hits, crushes and kills someone through his own recklessness or negligence even a criminal conviction is rarely enough to get a permanent driver’s licence ban. But insurance companies price a lot of these criminals off the road because they can’t afford the car insurance after their convictions. Cheap NDP car insurance could put these criminals back on the road killing more people.

  46. Karl Junkin says:

    Making transit affordable is not achieved by reducing fares. TTC fares are too low because increases should be annual, but politics interferes with that often. This is especially evident with 905 systems’ fares being higher than TTC’s despite offering a lower service level than the TTC in most cases. Transit affordability is achieved by hiking the minimum wage, which is still lower in real terms than it was 20 years ago.

  47. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Kevin Love said:

    But insurance companies price a lot of these criminals off the road because they can’t afford the car insurance after their convictions. Cheap NDP car insurance could put these criminals back on the road killing more people.

    I suppose this is one of those areas where people would say that criminals don’t pay for car insurance (as they apparently don’t register their guns or pay their taxes).

    Populism can go too far … but populism combined with political dithering is really the worst thing.

    I’m starting to think Wynne might pull this off simply by being honest with the public, having a plan, and actually being able to make decisions based on that plan.

    It’s amazingly refreshing …

    Cheers, Moaz

  48. Kevin Love says:

    I totally agree with Karl. Except for very poor people, transit fares are irrelevant to their travel mode decision-making. This may be seen by the fact that car driving is vastly more expensive, yet many people engage in that behaviour. To quote CAA (scarcely an unbiased source):

    “Yearly ownership costs for an average compact car are about $9,500”

    Being a professional accountant, I took a look at CAA’s numbers and see that they left a few things out. For example, the cost of car parking. Even in far-flung suburbia, the capital and maintenance costs of building and maintaining a garage and driveway are quite considerable. Paying for car parking in Toronto can be quite expensive. See The Star, for example.

    So it is fair to say that even a small compact car directly costs its owner well over $10,000 per year. Taking into account the 15% tax credit and various deals available, annual Metropass costs are about 10% of this. So why would someone pay ten times as much for transportation?

    The answer is because for far two many destinations from A to B, driving a car is the fastest, easiest and most convenient way to do so. Canada is a wealthy country, so people have no problem squandering an extra $10,000 per year for ease, speed and convenience.

    To fix this, we’ve got to make walking, cycling or public transit the fastest, easiest and most convenient way of going from A to B. The best way to do this tends to be a “sector” or “zone” strategy. This is used in many cities, such as Vienna in Austria and most cities in the Netherlands.

    With a sector strategy, only people walking, cycling or taking public transit can go straight from A to B. Car drivers are forced to drive out of the city along their sector (typically to an outer ring road) drive around the city to the sector they want, and then drive back in again. This makes one of walking, cycling or public transit the fastest, easiest and most convenient way of getting from A to B and car driving the slowest, hardest and most inconvenient. Details here.

    This strategy would be fairly easy to implement in Toronto, with the 401 acting as the ring road and natural barriers such as the Don and Humber rivers forming the border for the sectors.

    Steve: This ignores the basic point not only is a car more convenient for many trips, it offers a real time saving (and the imputed value of that time) and may be the only way the trip can be undertaken. Unless there is an alternative with capacity available to cover the types of trips you would divert, all your scheme will achieve is to piss off motorists and undermine support for better transit.

    Groningen is tiny compared to Toronto, and the distance involved in diversion to a ring road is much smaller than would be the case in here. Moreover, there are very serious congestion and transit issues outside of the “core” and the GTHA’s problems lie in the many-to-many nature of suburban travel demand.

  49. David Aldinger says:

    I was really quite surprised at your comment that some places in Toronto that deserve new subway lines. For the longest time I thought you didn’t think there was much of anywhere in Toronto where a subway was justified. Besides the DRL downtown, where do you think a subway is needed? It’s no secret the Eglinton isn’t one of those places but are there really places in Toronto where a subway might actually be justified?

    Steve: Yonge to Steeles to eliminate the massive jam-up of buses north of Finch. Also, if the TTC is ever going to get the headway down to 1’45″, they will need a split terminal operation. Finch would be hard to get down to just 2’00″ because of the long crossover. (On the Spadina side, the full service is not going all the way to Vaughan and so this is not an issue.)

    There is a related issue in that the TTC needs a new yard on the Yonge side of the line to hold the extra trains a 1’45″ headway will imply. One proposal was for an underground yard using a three-track section between Finch and Cummer Stations. This has been shifted north to be in Richmond Hill on the extension, but I am speaking in the context of “inside Toronto” subways.

    As for the DRL, at a minimum it must go north to Eglinton. At one time (some decades back), I thought of this line as LRT, but the degree to which surface construction is impractical for most of the route and the demand projections which preclude on street operation make this an underground line regardless of vehicle technology. Operationally it could link in with the Danforth subway at Greenwood Yard if a Donlands alignment is used.

  50. David Aldinger says:

    You know, back in 1990 on a Farewell to Gloucester Car excursion trip, I mentioned the need for the Yonge line to go to Steeles Avenue and all I got back was an argument that the subway was for people in the city and that was that. I’ve been 100 per cent for extending it to Steeles but it looks like it’s going to be a case of getting more than I wished for as has been the case at the Spadina. All I wanted there was an extension to York University or Steeles and wound up with more than I should have gotten or needed. All I want at the Yonge end is for it to be extended to Steeles and the same syndrome promises to kick in there.

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